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Jackson improves vs. lefties, but not stealing much

Jackson improves vs. lefties, but not stealing much

Jackson improves vs. lefties, but not stealing much play video for Jackson improves vs. lefties, but not stealing much

CHICAGO -- Austin Jackson has looked good to Tigers manager Jim Leyland against the White Sox left-handers at the plate this week. The next order of business is getting Jackson comfortable on the basepaths.

"I think he's been a little reluctant because of his hamstring," Leyland said. "I think at this point he would have been going a little bit more. But I think he's more conscious of it."

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The Tigers in Spring Training said they hoped Jackson would steal more bases -- he stole 12 in 137 games last year -- but Jackson missed about a month this year with a strained left hamstring.

Only two players in the Majors -- St. Louis' Matt Carpenter and Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons -- have more than 200 at-bats in the leadoff spot this year and fewer than six stolen bases. Jackson has six swipes and 294 at-bats in the top spot.

But Jackson has hit lefties hard this week, and southpaws have given him great trouble this year. He entered this week's series with a .159 average against southpaws and has a hit in the past two games against Chicago's lefty starters, including a home run Wednesday against John Danks. And some of the balls he's hit hard are not reflected in the box score.

"He's swung the bat good," Leyland said. "He's a big key for us."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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